Small Wins Make All The Difference
My clothes dryer broke a couple of weeks ago and I decided to fix it myself. I knew nothing about appliance repair, but because I became a house owner almost 2 years ago, I figured it might be a good idea to start learning how to fix stuff around the house.
So I found and watched a few YouTube videos, bought a multimeter, tested a couple parts (a fuse and the thermistor, I think), ordered the one I thought was broken on Amazon, replaced it, and... NOTHING.
More YouTube videos... Found one that showed how to take the dryer apart. I took the dryer apart; popped the control panel, slid off the top panel, took the door off, removed the drum, and voila! more parts to test. One seemed broken. I found and ordered it online. I put it in when it arrived two days later. I put the dryer back together, plugged it in, turned the gas on, turned it on and... IT WORKED.
I just accomplished the impossible! I fixed something I knew nothing about just two weeks earlier. It took me two weeks to do it and it'd be a lie to say I was sure I could do it, but in the end, I did it. And while I saved several hundred bucks as a result, it paled in comparison to the feeling I had. In that moment I felt anything is possible.
It wasn't the first time I experienced this. We all do from time to time. I realize now that what I did would have been a small and easy fix to an appliance repair professional. But it wasn't for me and it gives me more confidence to try other things I know nothing about. it encourages me to keep attempting the impossible. But it also makes me think. Do I set my students who struggle up to experience such small wins in my class enough? Do you?
Most of our students come to us with limited knowledge. We often take it for granted, because we know what we teach in and out. The longer we do it the easier it seems, but it is anything but for some students we teach every day. They are out of their element. Some must feel anxious. To some, our class is torture.
It's important for teachers to find ways for these students to experience small wins, so they can keep going. Such small victories become huge, because they set up for future success. They motivate to keep going in spite of previous failures. They show it's possible to learn despite the struggles. Growth mindset is important, but I'm not sure it works if there's no hope. As teachers, we must help some of our students find it.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.